Pärnu City Council appointed EKRE's former Minister of Rural Affairs Mart Järvik, who was dismissed from office last November after a scandal, as deputy mayor on Wednesday.
Järvik, who was in office for less than a year, replaces deputy mayor Siim Suursild. Järvik won 20 votes from the 39 member council.
Järvik became deputy mayor in connection with the change of the coalition in Pärnu council, during which the Isamaa party was sidelined and the new coalition was formed by the Pärnu United Electoral Alliance (Valimisliit Pärnu Ühendab), the Center Party and the Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE).
Until November 25, Järvik was a member of EKRE.
From 2002 to 2018, Järvik was the mayor of Järvakandi, Rapla County. Järvik, who joined the EKRE in 2015 and previously belonged to the Isamaa, had to resign as Minister of Rural Affairs due to several scandals in the ministry's administration and the loss of the Prime Minister's confidence.
Järvik: Debate as it always is
In a discussion preceding the approval of Järvik as deputy mayor, Reform Party member Toomas Kivimägi asked Järvik if he could be trusted as was competent for the role.
"In the words of Jüri Ratas, when he sought Kadriorg's (the president's - ed) approval for [your] dismissal - which you voluntarily refused to do - it was said that Mart Järvik had caused many problems with his words, deeds and in some cases inaction. Why should the people of Pärnu trust you if the Prime Minister, as gentle as he is lately, doesn't trust you?"
Järvik rejected the accusation: "That the Reform Party, through the media, was trying to create a situation of no-confidence which failed. It didn't work out because the allegations that were making were, after all, plucked from the air."
Speaking to ETV's Aktuaalne kaamera" he said: "Debate is as it always is. Maybe a little bit hotter than in my previous life experience. But you have to adjust and do your best to get things going in Pärnu."
Romek Kosenkranius, mayor of Pärnu, defended Järvik's appointment and said: "The law, the Local Government Organization Act, states which circumstances can stop the appointment of a deputy mayor or a member of the city government, and these circumstances are missing today."
Editor: Helen Wright